Used by the kings of France from the 12th century, the medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau, standing at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by François I, who wanted to make a 'New Rome' of it. Surrounded by an immense park, the Italianate palace combines Renaissance and French artistic traditions.
This is one Palace you must see with your own eyes.
Spend most of the time in the gardens, and then take a boat ride on the pools for a few euros.
You need at least one day to see this!
We go to walk around the gardens and discuss life!
On the backside of the palace of Versailles past the gardens and the fountains in the distance we saw paddleboats slowly gliding across the water of the lake. We decided to walk down and rent one of our own. And thanks to my new husband I got to relax and lay back and get a ride around and enjoy the scenery.
The cost of this experience is relatively inexpensive. It cost 14 euro for an hour. They take an extra 10 for a deposit which they give back to you if you return on time
The first time I visited Paris at my own, I stayed at the campsite in Versailles. Actually the visit to the Chateau de Versailles and especially its gardens were my priority.
I was a student landscape-architecture and had learned allready every detail of the gardens of Versailles during the lessons of history of gardenarchitecture.
Finally to see the enormous complex with my own eyes was an overwhelming experience. I walked around for a full day to get a overview and I realised it was not enough to see all the details.
I came back 30 years later and was surprised about the crowds visiting Versailles nowadays.
So many windows, rooms, fireplaces, staircases that you can't really count and more than 1,800 acres of park. The paintings, tapestries, sculptures ,furniture of this fabulous castle , have been executed by the best Italian and French artists of the time.
Be captivated by its majesty, gilded richness especially the Hall of Mirrors. It certainly left a lasting impression. The French certainly knew how to enjoy life. We can definitely take a page out of history.
Then there are the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon with lovely gardens. When the King wants to get away, this is where he spent time with family.
To get there :
By train :
RER ligne C
from Montparnasse station
train SNCF direction Versailles-Chantiers
from Saint-Lazare station
train SNCF direction Versailles-rive-droite
By bus :
from Pont de Sèvres ligne 171 de la RATP
direction Versailles-place d'Armes
By car :
Motorway A13 (direction Rouen)
Paying car park on place d'Armes
Open Tues to Sun, closed on Mon and some French public holidays
1 Nov to 31 Mar: 9am to 5.30pm
(last admission 5 pm)
1 Apr - 31 Oct: 9am to 6.30pm
(last admission 6pm).
1 Nov to 31 Mar: 8am until sunset
1 Apr - 31 Oct: 9am until sunset (except on Grandes Eaux Musicales days).
Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon
Open daily except some French public holidays
1 Nov - 31 Mar: 12noon to 5.30pm
(last admission 5pm).
1 Apr - 31 Oct: 12noon to 6.30pm
(last admission 6pm).
Ticket valid for the whole day
Palace (State Apartments, Museum of the History of France, Coach Museum)
- age 18 and over: €8
- after 3.30pm: €6
- school pupils, under age 18 and disabled: free
Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon
- age 18 and over: €5
- after 3.30 pm: €3
- school pupils, under age18 and disabled: free
Gardens come free!
Make sure you know if your train goes directly to Versailles or how many stops that particular train will be making.
I almost didn?t get off at the right place because I was told "X" number of stops before Versailles and the train only stopped "Y" number of times!
I did very much enjoy myself here, though it will not be top on my list the next time I visit Paris.
Versailles is not accessible via the metro, so you must take an actual train to get there. I think the journey is around 40 minutes to an hour, and it is a few blocks walk to the actual palace gates. I found Versailles (its appearence, the grounds) overwhelming due to its sheer size. The inside tour isnt much, and I was constantly trying to find my way around various tour groups of different nationalities. Indeed, with so many tour groups, it was hard to see any of the rooms or take any pictures.
The grounds are well worth the visit. You could walk for hours in the gardens (if they are open) and around the fountains. Also on the grounds (and a fair distances walk) are the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Hamlet of Marie Antoinette.
The chateau and gardens of Versailles are beyond description. There are assorted wonders everywhere. See my Versailles page for just a hint of what awaits you.
We toured Versailles via a bike with Mike's Bike Tour. Mike's Bike were wonderful. We rode the bikes through Paris to the train, on the train with the bikes, rode to an open air market in Versailles, rode to the Palace. There is so much more to see on the palace grounds (and on the bike, you can see it all). Ate lunch at the end of the Grand Canal. I would highly recommend this day trip!
Entering the Chateau de Versailles palace area is very imposing. After you crossed first
the huge Place d'Armes, you enter three innercourts, the Cour des Ministres, de Cour Royale and the Cour d Marbre with the statue of Louis XIV in its centre.
Going back to town after your visit you have a great view from the Place d' Armes into the Avenue de Paris in the towncentre of Versailles. Around the huge Place d' Armes are the twin buildings the Grande and Petit Ecuries, the Grand and Lesser Stables. These former stables had to house the 600 horses of the king. Nowadays the Grand Stables houses the Coach Museum.
The Park of Versailles is designed in the formal French style with geometrical forms. From the palace to the west you have a great view at the 1,6KM long Gran Canal. This canal is oriented to the west to reflect the sunset. In the mainly geometrical gardens you find colourful flowerbeds, ponds and a lot of fountains and many statues of marble and bronze.
Within its borders the Park of Versailles has also an English style garden, the ''Jardins de Petit Trianon'' with bending paths and a more pastoral character. These gardens are situated nort of the Grand Canal around the two smaller palaces the Grand and Petit Trianon.
I liked to see the contrasts in those two different styles of garden design.
Though I came to Versailles in the first place for its gardens, I visited af course also the Chateau de Versailles. In the 17th century Louis XIV decided to turn the hunting lodge of his father in Versailles into a palace. This palace had to be big enough for the around 600 peopel of the court.
One of the highlights of the palace is the spectacular 70M long Galerie de Glaces, Hall of mirrors. This hall, where in 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed, meaning the end of World War I, has 17 huge mirrors at one side and 17 windows at the other side looking to the gardens.
If you are at all interested in beautiful architecture or incredible interiors, fabulous gardens and wonderful history, visiting the Palace of Versailles is a must. The town of Versailles also has some great food options as well, and altogether makes for a great trip off the beaten path!
The grounds at Versailles are replete with fountains of all kinds. Unfortunately the first time I visited was a holiday, and although the weather was nice the Chateau itself was closed. We strolled around the grounds, enjoying the beauty. However, on holidays the fountains are turned off! The second time I visited was in December and while we were able to go into the Chateau, the fountains were all wrapped up so that the pipes wouldn't freeze. Someday I hope to see them all running!
About a half hour on the RER will take you to the town of Versailles and the famous Chateau. An entrance ticket will earn you a tour of the beautiful grand chateau where you will see the famous Hall of Mirrors and all the gold and red velvet and amazing furnishings.
The grounds of the chateau can be visited free of charge. Acres and acres of trees, fountains, flowering gardens and pastures are there for visitors to stroll through, picnic in and enjoy. There are carriage rides that you can take, and a small train that will take you to the far end of the grounds and back.
At the other end of the grounds is Petit Versailles, the home of Marie Antoinette. For a small fee you can visit this building and again it's free to stroll around the grounds with the stables and fountains.
Marie Antoinette is quoted as saying that about the peasents who had no bread to eat. Well those same peasents started the French Revolution, and unfortunately for her finished it. Marie Antoinette was married and lived with her husband Louis the 16th in Versailles for over 20 years. She was the last Queen of France, and the Versailles palace is evidence of their decadence. She was only 14 when she assumed her royal position, so it is maybe understandable why she was not a great queen with compassion due to her age and immaturity. Her daughter is the only one that survived the French Revolution.
Versailles is a magnificent display of the oppulence the French Royal family lived in. The gardens are lovely and and the palace is just extraordinary. A visit is very historically interesting. It only takes about 20 minutes by bus to get to Versailles, so all you would need is an afternoon to visit this legendary palace. Also, don't miss the hall of mirrors where the treaty of Versailles was signed to end WWI. It's the largest room in the palace with 17 mirrors reflecting 17 windows that overlook the exquisite gardens. The highlight of my trip to Versailles.